Women were very much a part of early computing and the internet but that has changed with the industry now dominated by men. That means much of what is produced is written from a male perspective which isn’t ideal when more than half of us are women.
• 90% of coding and tech engineering done by men
• Is Suri Sexist? Cultural Gender Bias Being Hardwired into the technology and AI driving our lives?
• 1.8 million jobs projected to go in next two years – women, minority groups will bear the brunt.
Representing only 16% of Australia’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce, women account for only 22% of the tech workforce and just 7% of those in engineering.
Toyota Australia, KPMG, Flamingo Ai, and the Australian Academy of Science are among Australian STEM leaders taking the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute’s (AMSI) Women in STEM Pledge to pay it forward by opening opportunities for a new generation of women.
Launched at STEMFest 2019: Women Changing Australia, industry and members of the Australian STEM workforce at every stage of their career are joining the pledge online. Those who sign on will say they 'take the '#WiSTEMpledge to open opportunities for women in STEM'.
Pledgers can also show their support and commitment by posting a picture with the official downloadable pledge sign on social media using the #/WiSTEMpledge hashtag
Flamingo Ai Founder and Executive Director and STEMFest Keynote, Dr Catriona Wallace says, “As a leader in technology I feel a strong obligation to forge pathways for women – that’s one of the reasons I founded Flamingo Ai. I’ve led a technology company that holds gender and diversity at its heart and, also used my voice to educate the market on the importance of the role of women, equity and diversity in the sector," Dr Wallace says.
Creative problem solvers and strong collaborators, women bring a different lens to STEM challenges and the human side of innovation. Harnessing these perspectives, says Wallace, will be essential to how we shape technology and Artificial Intelligence and its role in our lives.
“90% of coding and engineering is done by men. A lack of diversity poses a real risk of data bias being hard coded into the machines and algorithms that will run our lives, as individuals, organisations, governments and communities,” she says.
Austin Health recently opened a door for PhD, Basant Ebaid with an APR.Intern placement at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre. This experience has reinforced for Basant the powerful impact of women supporting women in STEM and shining the light on career pathways.
“Australian women have and continue to make significant contributions to STEM. Promoting these achievements and nurturing future talent will defy gender stereotypes and drive diversity to support innovation,” she says.
The pledge is a natural step for AMSI and its APR.Intern program. Opening opportunities is something AMSI does best, creating career changing gateways between high-level expertise and the innovation workforce.
Having made the pledge himself, AMSI’s APR.Intern Program Director, Gary Hogan hopes others will draw on the feeling of that first yes, the jubilation of having a door opened and use the pledge to pay it forward for the next generation of women in STEM.
“It only takes one person to change a life, but together we can change a generation. Increasing the number of women in STEM not only ensures a secure skill supply but it delivers diversity of ideas and innovation that reflects and lifts our whole community,” he says.
Australians and companies working in STEM industries are encouraged to pay it forward and pledge an opportunity for women in STEM. Visit https://amsi.org.au/pledge/ to join the movement and bring us closer to equity. You can also share your support and pledge online using the hashtag #WiSTEMpledge.